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PURPOSE: FK506-binding protein like (FKBPL) and its peptide derivative, AD-01, have already shown tumor growth inhibition and CD44-dependent antiangiogenic activity. Here, we explore the ability of AD-01 to target CD44-positive breast cancer stem cells (BCSC). EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Mammosphere assays and flow cytometry were used to analyze the effect of FKBPL overexpression/knockdown and AD-01 treatment ± other anticancer agents on BCSCs using breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7/MDA-231/ZR-75), primary patient samples, and xenografts. Delays in tumor initiation were evaluated in vivo. The anti-stem cell mechanisms were determined using clonogenic assays, quantitative PCR (qPCR), and immunofluorescence. RESULTS: AD-01 treatment was highly effective at inhibiting the BCSC population by reducing mammosphere-forming efficiency and ESA(+)/CD44(+)/CD24(-) or aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)(+) cell subpopulations in vitro and tumor initiation in vivo. The ability of AD-01 to inhibit the self-renewal capacity of BCSCs was confirmed; mammospheres were completely eradicated by the third generation. The mechanism seems to be due to AD-01-mediated BCSC differentiation shown by a significant decrease in the number of holoclones and an associated increase in meroclones/paraclones; the stem cell markers, Nanog, Oct4, and Sox2, were also significantly reduced. Furthermore, we showed additive inhibitory effects when AD-01 was combined with the Notch inhibitor, DAPT. AD-01 was also able to abrogate a chemo- and radiotherapy-induced enrichment in BCSCs. Finally, FKBPL knockdown led to an increase in Nanog/Oct4/Sox2 and an increase in BCSCs, highlighting a role for endogenous FKBPL in stem cell signaling. CONCLUSIONS: AD-01 has dual antiangiogenic and anti-BCSC activity, which will be advantageous as this agent enters clinical trial.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





3881 - 3893


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Breast Neoplasms, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Female, Humans, Hyaluronan Receptors, Immunophilins, MCF-7 Cells, Mice, Mice, SCID, Neoplastic Stem Cells, Radiation Tolerance, Receptors, Notch, Signal Transduction, Spheroids, Cellular, Tumor Burden, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays